For many who do not live on Vancouver Island it is a shock for them to find out that although we live in Canada, we don’t (as a rule) get snow…or at least not the kind that hangs around for days…never mind months. Well this year has been much different. In December of 2016, the 3rd of December to be exact, was my last day working for the rest of the month. Winter came and stayed and stayed and stayed. We were in a deep freeze for over a month and the snow that came…STAYED! So much for living in a rain forest! When the snow finally melted (most of it) two weeks ago, it was only because we received so much rain. It washed away the snow and melted the ice. I have now been back to work for the last two weeks.
Since it was so cold and frozen, I had to lay the staff off and am now back to work, but working alone for the time being. Springs clean up has already started in many gardens and I am hard at work. Many shrubs and trees have winter damage from carrying the weight of the snow and ice for so long. Many branches are broken or damaged which means a larger clean up then normal. I have also started trimming and pruning, as well as weeding. It is a perfect time to weed as the ground has so much moisture many of the weeds pull right out. Which is great because saving time on weeding helps to off set the extra time required for the extra clean up and the extra pruning necessary to keep the gardens healthy and vibrant.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the palms that have been planted in so many gardens. The research I have done says that the palms can withstand temperatures dipping to -10 C. However, we had extended periods of days where it stayed that cold. It is true that mother nature can be cruel and it will be sad if many of the palms do not survive. They add a new texture and vibrancy to the landscape here on the island and I shall be sad if their survival is threatened. As the temperatures warm up we will see what has been damaged. Only time will tell.
For those gardeners who are unsure of when to prune or trim. There are basic rules that I follow.
- Any plant or tree that has damaged limbs…prune immediately.
- Pruning and trimming in the fall/winter will slow down growth as the plants are moving towards dormancy.
- Pruning and trimming in the spring stimulates growth as the plants are becoming active again.
- Never ever take more then 1/3 off of any plant or shrub as it could kill it. The more you prune or trim the more likely it is that the plant will become stressed. When a plant is stressed it can bring many problems. It sends a message to insects, diseases, fungus, etc…”I am not well so come and eat me.” Plants are similar to humans…stress can be a killer.